Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Beast in the Dumpster

I was lucky enough to visit Hillcrest School in Salmon Arm, B.C. and see what incredibly creative activities the teachers and students are doing with my books. Here's a great idea for a class reading Klutzhood . . .

When Arlo's sitting on the Dumpster lid, he hears something and feels the lid move. He assumes there's some Dumpster monster down below. One of the teachers at Hillcrest School in Salmon Arm had her students listen to what Arlo thought the monster might look like. Then, she turned them loose and had them draw the monster in the Dumpster. What a great idea! The students' attention to detail was amazing.
Thanks to Joc, Hillcrest's Librarian Extraordinaire, for taking the picture.

If you have any other spectacularly creative spin-off projects relating to any of my books, I'd love to hear about them. Just send an email!

Also, don't forget about the Klutzhood study guide, full of all sorts of bizarre activities and questions, available at the Orca Books website.

What's Your Favourite Flavour of Ice Cream?

Yikes! I'm thinking I look much better dressed up as a big red dog, although my peripheral vision is much better in this get-up.

Here I am at Hillcrest School in Salmon Arm as part of my North Okanagan-Shuswap tour. What a terrific audience they were. Then again, everywhere I go on this tour, I've met vast hordes of enthusiastic readers who always ask the most interesting questions.

Yes, sure I get, "Where do you get your ideas," or "How long does it take to write a book?" But one bright little grade four student in Carlin asked, "What's your favourite flavour of ice cream?" My answer? "Tin Roof Sundae!" How can you beat the combination of chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, and whatever other magical ingredients they add? Of course, I'll eat pretty well anything (I draw the line at flavours containing live insects, reptile parts, or anything hexagonal) but Tin Roof Sundae is my very favourite.

Here's a question for you! What do you think would be the favourite flavour of ice cream for Buddy, Martin, Trixi, Arlo, Cassie, Mr. Butterworth (butterscotch?) or Ms. Baumgartner? If you have a guess, please send me an email, and I'll let you know if you're right.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Being Clifford

Take a look . . . a good close look, and I’m sure you can tell. Underneath that thick layer of brilliant red hair, behind those big friendly eyes, and somewhere inside that benign smile, you must be able to tell. Yes! It is, in fact, yours truly dressed up as the world’s biggest red dog.

But don’t think dressing up as Clifford is just all fun and games with a bit of tail wagging and paw waving. No siree! The Clifford costume comes with guidelines. Very strict guidelines. Among them . . .

Clifford is not to be seen with his head off at any time.

Clifford is NEVER allowed to talk.

Clifford is NEVER to lift his leg.

And there’s more. Plenty more.

So when you’re dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog, the pressure is on. You have to act like Clifford, which means you have to improvise.

How would Clifford react to, say, knocking over a book display with his errant tail?

How does Clifford dance like John Travolta?

How does Clifford sign autographs without an opposable thumb?

How does Clifford maintain his friendly, cheerful persona when he’s melting in a pool of sweat and his glasses are fogging up so he can’t see a thing?

How does Clifford manage the greeting of young children when he has no peripheral vision and can’t see anything within two metres of his big feet? (Check the picture. This kid is out of Clifford’s range of vision. We hope he wasn’t traumatized by being ignored by the Big Red Dog.)

Fortunately, I had a very capable handler who guided me through the trappings of a school family dance and fund raiser night. The evening was incident free– at least, as far as my limited vision could see– and Clifford’s reputation as a happy, helpful, rabies-free dog was upheld. Thank you Randy!